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Howard ZInn 6-Pack

Program #ZINH013-ZINH044-ZINH038-ZINH025-ZINH006.

A People's History of the United States (2CDs)

"You wanna read a real history book?" Matt Damon asks Robin Williams in the movie Good Will Hunting. "Read Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. That book'll knock you on your ass." It'll do that and more. Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States has sold more than 2 million copies. And it keeps on selling. Zinn's close friend Noam Chomsky said the book "changed the consciousness of a generation." Zinn's history from below approach was to foreground as he said, "the countless small actions of unknown people." It was a sharp departure from the standard Big Man theory of history: General so and so President so and so, etc.

Recorded at Reed College.

Against War

In a May 1976 column in The Boston Globe Howard Zinn wrote "Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren." Sadly his column in the Globe was discontinued soon after. And even more sadly his words are evergreen. Veterans are still returning from foreign wars with lost limbs, bodies and souls.

If an honest history is ever written of the U.S. war on Iraq it may not be believed. It’s ten years since Washington launched its shock and awe attack. Remember: weapons of mass destruction, axis of evil, mobile chemical labs, slam dunks, Curveball, smoking guns, mushroom clouds, cakewalks, liberators, regime change and mission accomplished? The architects of the war: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Feith, Wolfowitz, and others should be doing time instead of having a good time. Today, Iraq is a broken country. Nothing will bring back the hundreds of thousands of dead. The U.S. owes Iraq reparations for the destruction it has caused. But being the global superpower means you never have to say you’re sorry or face justice. The permanent war economy feeds on conflict and strife. Is it utopian to imagine a different future?

Against Discouragement

It wasn't that long ago when the U.S. labeled the African National Congress as a terrorist organization. Its leader, Nelson Mandela languished for years in prison. Then because of massive grassroots movement and international support through boycott and divestment, Mandela is released and South Africa frees itself from its apartheid regime. Throughout history people have overcome tremendous odds to advance the cause of justice. Take the civil rights movement. What were African Americans up against? The entire apparatus of power from the courthouse to the statehouse was controlled by segregationists. And the federal government? Asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, blacks organized and fought back. The key to the struggle was collective action. There's an African proverb that captures that spirit, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Artists in a Time of War

The role of artists, writers, poets, actors, and musicians have an enormous impact on society. Because of the special place they occupy in people's hearts and minds their influence is central. Artists shine light into the dark crevices of the human psyche. They question, nudge and agitate. Bonnie Raitt, Michael Franti, Arthur Miller, Alice Walker, Rage Against the Machine, Bob Dylan, Arundhati Roy, Susan Sarandon all push and expand the parameters of permissible thought. In times of crisis and war, great artists provide comfort, hope, inspiration and understanding.

Second Thoughts on the First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech.” There it is. Plain and simple. The First Amendment to the Constitution. But since 9/11 that amendment has been under sustained attack. Whistleblowers John Kiriakou, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and others are hounded, threatened and imprisoned by the U.S. government. A fascinating and compelling account of past and present efforts to secure and expand political and social rights for workers, women and African-Americans. A classic Zinn from our archives.

Speaker(s):

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country's premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once told me, "one step ahead of the landlord." After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He taught at Spelman, the all black women's college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterwork, A People's History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn with David Barsamian. Just before his death he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous and loved, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. His words inspire many the world over, "We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. To live now, as human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

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